the wardrobe research


We are both interested in how clothes are important – or not – in the working lives of women school leaders. We came to this project by chatting about our past experiences. A lot of research starts this way.

While we are a generation apart, and our school leadership posts were very different – Amanda’s rural and Pat’s very urban – we had both bought specific clothing just for school. And this was not the same as our preferred weekend attire. We’d done this because we’d both felt there was some kind of unspoken norm about how a school principal should look.

During our conversation, we wondered how the implicit rules about the appearance of women leaders were tangled up in questions of professionalism and gender. We decided that it might be both fun and also potentially interesting to ask other women leaders about their wardrobes.

We have begun this research by devising an anonymised survey. If you are reading this, and haven’t yet taken it, and would like to, clicking on this link will take you to the online survey site.

We will be conducting follow-up interviews with women who volunteer to have us contact them. Do contact us if you’d like to contribute.